Top 10 Hunting Binoculars

In most countries, if not all, aiming the wrong target can get you in a lot of troubles.

Objective Lens Size

Many hunters will go out in the early morning or late afternoon/early evening and therefore the light gathering ability and the brightness of the image produced is critical. In general the larger the size of the objective lens, the better the binocular will perform in low light. Other factors including the quality of the lenses, lens coatings as well as prisms will also play a vital roll in transferring the maximum amount of light to your eyes. The down size to large objective lenses is that they not only make the binoculars bigger and heavier, but more expensive as well. So as with most things, you have to strike a compromise to get the best binoculars for your particular needs.

Most full size binoculars will have an objective lens diameter of 42mm, compact binoculars tend to have 26mm or even 22mm diameters.

A good compromise for many hunters wanting to travel light, but still want a good low light performance are mid-size binoculars that come with objective lenses of around 32mm. For me a good quality mid-sized bin often makes the ideal compromise between portability and light gathering qualities.

Magnification & Field of View

Most people imagine that the higher the magnification, the better the binocular. Not true. Large magnifications make it really difficult to keep the image that you are look at through the optics still (any slight movement is magnified more and more by larger magnifications).

Larger magnifications also generally reduce the field of view (width of the image that you see). A narrower field of view (FOV) will make it much more difficult to spot game, especially when scanning over large areas, it can also make it harder to track faster moving wildlife.

Having said this, the ideal magnification will also depend on your most commonly used terrain. Those who mostly hunt in the woods and forests will be best off choosing a binocular with low magnification (wide field of view) and plenty of light gathering ability, something like an 8x42 binocular or if you need a more compact binocular, an 8x30 or 8x32.

High Powered Binoculars for Hunting

Those hunting in wide open areas and in the mountains will obviously need to observe game at greater distances and therefore need a larger magnification: 10x, 12x or even greater magnifications may be required. But just keep in mind that the narrower FOV will hamper you a little when searching for game over large areas.

For more information on this, read an article I wrote on the Best High Powered Binoculars for Hunting, that includes advice on what to look out for, as well as a few suggestions on what binoculars to get.

Binocular Durability and Design

Waterproof & Fogproof
Spending time in any wilderness will mean encountering all sorts of weather conditions, it therefore makes sense to choose a pair of binoculars that are fully waterproof. Sealed binoculars not only prevent moisture from getting inside the optics, but dust and other debris as well. Also look out for fogproof binoculars are filled with argon or nitrogen gas to inhibit internal fogging caused by temperature extremes.

To protect you binoculars from accidental drops and knocks, look out for models that have tough rubber armour.

Although not essential, a camouflage exterior can also be helpful for keeping you out of sight. Many manufacturers produce models in different colour variations and include a camo version, that you should keep a look out for.

Steiner 8x42 Predator BinocularsSpecial Lens Coatings

Steiner Binoculars have a range of binoculars known as Predator's that have been designed specifically for hunting and that feature high contrast optics that block the colors of haze and foliage and enhance the visibility of browns, reds and other wildlife colors helping you spot hidden game. Read my detailed article on Steiner Predator Binoculars for more information, or take a look at my overview of the Steiner 10x26 Predator Pro Compact Binoculars.

Rangefinder Binoculars for HuntingRangefinder Binoculars

Binoculars like the Zeiss Victory Range Finder Binoculars that have LED displays within the view that, with a press of a button display the precise distance to the object you are viewing along with their integrated BIS™ ballistic information system.

Also worth taking a look at the Nikon LaserForce Rangefinder binoculars.

Eye Relief

This is very important if you use eye glasses. Take a look at Eye Relief in my glossary for a detailed explanation, but basically it is the distance behind the ocular lenses where the image is in focus. So if you wear glasses, you can't get your eyes as close to the lenses, you need a longer eye relief that basically projects the image beyond the ocular lens on the binoculars. So if you wear glasses, you should be looking for an eye relief of at least 15mm, to see the full image full image. The down side to long eye relief is that it usually reduces the field of view. Some people wonder if you need to wear glasses at all using binoculars, well If you are near-sighted or far-sighted, you can use your binoculars without wearing glasses and the binoculars focus will compensate, but if you have astigmatism, you will need to use your glasses.

Eye Cups

Eye-cups are related to the eye relief as they keep the distance from the oculars to our eyes, but also help keep stray light away from your eyes while using binoculars. Many eye-cups are made from rubber and can roll up or down another type are eye-cups that slide rather than roll, but these can be hard to keep in place.

The third type and now most commonly used are eye-cups that twist up and down and so they can be left at any position from all the way up to all the way down, some even have click stops at regular intervals with the eye relief distance for each stop marked on the cup so you can get the perfect eye relief for your vision.

EyeShieldsSome of the best designs particularly for hunting have flaps/shades on the sides, which not only prevent light entering from the side, but also stop you being distracted by anything on the periphery of your view. If your bins do not come with these, you can get some that fit over your eyecup, some of the best that I have used are EyeShields from Field Optics that I highly recommend.

The Vortex Optics Viper HD 10×42 111

Leica 10x42 geovid hd-b

Vortex Optics Diamondback 10x42 11

Eagle Optics Shrike 8x42 shk-4208

The Vanguard Endeavor 8x42

vanguard spirit xf spirit 1

vortex crossfire 10x42

Steiner predator 10x42 11

Nikon monarch 5 8x42 1

bushnell bear grylls 10x42

Nikon 8248 aculon 8211

upland optics perception hd 10x42

Bushnell h20 waterproof fogproof compact roof prism binocular

Leupold BX-1 McKenzie Review


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